dream a little dream, but don’t tell me about it

I already failed to uphold my vow to blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday during May.


I fell asleep last night with my laptop upon me, my fingers poised above the keys.

Sad, right?

Fine. Don’t sympathize.

Instead, let’s talk about dreams.

There’s nothing more fascinating in this world than your own dreams, and nothing more boring than the dreams of others. That’s why agents and editors want to scream/pull out your hair/give up not drinking when they get a manuscript that starts with the main character’s dream.

Really. It’s lazy.

Think about what you’re trying to do with that dream:

  1. Is it amusing filler? HECK. You’re not supposed to “fill” your book with anything! Every scene in your novel needs to move the story forward.
  2. Does the dream foreshadow something? Do your foreshadowing with offhand comments between characters or bring in minor incidents that will turn out to be major incidents, later.
  3. Is the dream revealing something in your protagonist’s character? Use one of your other tools: dialogue, action, internal monologue, plot, description, voice–etc., instead.
  4. Are you using the dream to dump backstory? Wow, lazybones. Backstory has to spool out slowly throughout your novel.

When I read a book with a dream sequence, I usually skim through it as quickly as possible.

Have you ever read a dream that was so fascinating you thought it was integral to the book?


About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on May 5, 2011, in writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Good post. And yes, I did visit your blog on Wednesday. And though I do have a dream journal on my bedside table (which is getting quite full), I promise not to include the dreams in my manuscripts (my dreams are usually too dang weird anyway). 🙂

  2. *which is getting quite full*–>the journal, not the table. 🙂

  3. Great post, I never thought about why dream sequences were there in the first place.

  4. lishacauthen

    Hah. Dreams are a treasure trove of ideas. Just not unfiltered, Judy!

    Yeah, Jessica, I can see why you might not see the point of them sometimes!

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